Apple is expected to unveil iOS 8, its next big software update for iPhones and iPads, during its World Wide Developers Conference in June.
The update is likely to bring a few new features to the iPhone while improving on Apple’s existing apps and services.
The current version of Apple’s mobile software, iOS 7, was a big deal for iPhone users when it launched.
It completely changed the look and feel of Apple’s mobile software, ushering in a new flat design and ditching the skeuomorphic architecture that had been found in previous iterations of iOS.
This also marked the first time Apple’s iconic hardware design chief Jony Ive played a major role in shaping the software aesthetics for a major product launch. Ive has since been promoted to lead the entire software design team at Apple.
iOS 8 isn’t expected to bring as much of a physical change as iOS 7, but rumours suggest that there will be some noteworthy additions come this fall. Here’s a look at everything we think we know about iOS 8.
One of the most significant changes to come with iOS 8 is expected to be Healthbook, a fitness-focused app that monitors your health. 9to5Mac’s Mark Gurman, who obtained screenshots of the app, reported that it will be able to track steps and calories burned, monitor blood pressure, blood sugar and oxygen levels in blood, track your sleep and tell you how much water you need to drink depending on your activity.
It’s unclear exactly how Apple would collect this type of personal data. The iPhone 5s’ M7 motion co-processor is capable of tracking steps and other basic activity, but there’s no way for it to monitor blood pressure, hydration or sleep.
Improved Apple Maps
Apple reportedly plans to redeem its troubled Maps app with iOS 8. Apple Maps, which debuted with iOS 6 in 2012, was a complete disaster when it launched. The glitch-ridden navigation app was so terrible that Apple CEO Tim Cook wrote an apology letter to iOS users on its website following its release.
The next version of iOS, however, could introduce improvements such as more-accurate location data. The updated app, according to 9to5Mac, will also include new points of interest and will offer transit directions for buses, trains and subways.
iTunes Radio app
iTunes Radio is Apple’s Pandora-like music-streaming service that was introduced with iOS 7. The service is currently built into iTunes as an added feature, but 9to5Mac reports that it will get its own standalone app with iOS 8. This could help Apple’s service compete against the likes of Spotify, Pandora, Beats Audio and other similar apps.
Preview and Text Edit apps
Apple could bring its Preview and Text Edit desktop apps to iOS with its next major update, 9to5Mac reports. Text Edit lets you view simple text files, much like Notepad for Windows. Preview lets you view photos and PDFs. The Mac versions of these two apps already sync with iCloud, but there’s no way to view those files on your iPhone or iPad. This, however, could change with iOS 8.
No Game Center
The Game Center may be removed from iOS with its next update, according to 9to5Mac. Game Center features, which include the ability to receive challenges from friends, would instead be built directly into iOS games.
More Siri integration
Apple is reportedly working on extending Siri’s integration with third-party apps. The iPhone virtual assistant is currently compatible with OpenTable and can retrieve search results from Wolfram Alpha.
Apple is hoping to extend these capabilities to other apps and services, according to The Information.
Siri’s capabilities could extend beyond answering voice queries, which would make it seem more like a virtual assistant than an oral search engine. One implementation could involve Siri automatically pulling up an exercise app when you start jogging, as TechCrunch’s Darrell Etherington points out.
Cleaner Notification Center
Apple may also tighten the Notification Center in iOS 8. Currently, the drop-down notification hub divides alerts into Today, All and Missed sections. The next iteration of iOS could combine all of these tabs into the Today column to allow for a more streamlined experience, 9to5Mac reports.
A minor yet noteworthy tweak that may hit iOS 8 is support for voice over LTE. This means that voice phone calls would be transmitted over the same network as mobile data. Typically, phone calls are processed over 3G even when you’re connected to 4G, but 9to5Mac’s Mark Gurman says “carrier sources” have told him iOS 8 will bring voice-over-LTE support for the iPhone.
Apple may add a few tweaks to native iPhone apps, according to 9to5Mac. The messaging app may be updated with a feature that allows users to automatically delete old conversation threads. Apple is also reportedly testing a new version of CarPlay that would allow you to connect to your car’s dashboard wirelessly rather than through a cable.
At the same time, Apple is expected to make syncing across apps much easier by introducing inter-app communication. This means that apps would be able to share data and communicate with one another. Essentially, this functionality would make it easier to edit a photo and share it directly to Facebook or Instagram. At the moment, you’d have to manually share it to one of these apps after taking the photo.